Chauncey Jerome.

History of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years, and Life of Chauncey Jerome online

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hundred dollars, through a firm who owed me that amount, and who gave
their notes to - - on short time, which notes were paid. A short time
after this, knowing that I had no more money to put into the business,
he undoubtedly thought it time to do what he had intended to do at a
suitable time from the beginning. One day when I was unwell and
confined to the house, a man who had a claim against the company,
called on - - to make a settlement. Before this time he had made
two payments on this same account, but he now told this man that there
never had been such a company, and that he would never pay it - while
at the same time, he had the same property which the man offered to
take back but which he had refused to give up, and said that I had no
right to use the name of - - & Co. This was after he had been using the
name for me in drafts and notes, and all other business transactions,
for more than eight months. He said that he would have me arrested for
fraud and put in the State Prison. This treatment was rather hard
towards a man who had never before been accused of dishonesty, and who
had done business on a large scale with thousands of men for more than
forty years. He at one time requested me to borrow a note for him from
one of my friends, which I did, and which he paid promptly when due. He
did this, as I now suppose, because the business was not in as good
shape for him as it might be in another three months; so he wished me to
get the favor renewed, which I did. When it became due, he denied that
it was a borrowed note, declared that I was owing him, and had handed
this note to him as one that was good and would be paid. One of his best
friends has since told me that there was more honor among horse-thieves
than this man had shown towards me. I put into the business between four
and five thousand dollars, worked hard almost a year, and have received
about five hundred dollars. - - is trying to scare me by threatening to
sue me for perjury; so that if he could make me fool enough to pay the
debts of - - & Co., he would have just so much more to put into his own
pocket. When he can get a grand jury to find a true bill against me for
fraud or perjury, I will promise to go to Wethersfield and stay there
the remainder of my life, without any further trial. After all that I
have said, I think of him just as all his neighbors do; for they have
told me that it was the common talk among them, when I first went into
his factory, that he would in some way cheat me out of every dollar that
I put into his hands. It would take just about as much evidence to prove
that young crows would be black when their feathers are grown, as it
would to satisfy the community that these statements are true,
especially where he is known. For knavery, untruthfulness, and
wickedness, I have never seen anything, in all my business experience of
forty years, that will compare with this. He would not have taken such a
course with me once, but he took advantage of my age and misfortunes to
commit these frauds, thinking that I could not defend myself, and that
he could defraud and crush me.

I had paid every dollar of my money into this business which I had at
that time, and had nothing to live on through the winter. But John
Woodruff in his kindness, raised money enough for me to live on through
the winter, and the following spring I moved to New Haven.



In order to have my history complete I must give my reason for building
the Wooster Place Church, as my motives have been misconstrued by many
persons, I will make a short statement of what I know to be true. It is
well known that with the exception of one, all the Congregational
churches in New Haven, were located west of the centre of the city. The
majority of the inhabitants lived in the eastern section. Meeting after
meeting was called by the different churches to consider the importance
of building a church in the eastern part. It was strongly advocated by
the ministers and many others, that this part of the city was rapidly
filling up, a great deal of manufacturing was carried on there, and the
strangers who were constantly coming in would fall into other
denominations. I heard their speeches advocating this course with great
pleasure, as I lived in the eastern part of the city, had a long
distance to go to attend church, and nearly all the workmen in my employ
lived in the same section. The church which I have mentioned as the only
one located east of the centre, was in a very prosperous condition. By
the talent, popularity and piety of its minister, as his church and
congregation believed, he had filled the church to overflowing. There
were no slips to be bought in that church. We heard this minister say
that he could spare thirty families from his congregation to build up a
new church. In view of all the facts, I started a subscription paper, in
as good faith as I ever did anything in my life, for the raising of
funds to build an edifice. The subscription was headed by myself with
five thousand dollars and many large sums were added to it. A number of
wealthy men lived near the contemplated place of building the new
church, who belonged to other churches. It was supposed, by what their
ministers had said in public and in private, that they would use their
influence in advancing this good work, and to have some of their members
join in it; but for some reason they changed their minds. I heard that
the minister of the church located in the eastern section (which I
mentioned before,) had got up a subscription paper to raise ten or
twelve thousand dollars to beautify the front of his church, raise a
higher steeple, and make some other alterations that he thought
important. I was told that he called on the men who lived in the
locality where we proposed erecting the new church, with his
subscription, and that they subscribed to carry out his plans. Some of
those who had subscribed to build the new church, after he had made
these calls, wrote me that they wished their names crossed off from my
paper - Others came and told me the same thing, and wished their names
erased. I began at this time to understand that there were influences
working against our enterprise and that this way of building a church
must be given up. I however, went forward myself, as is very well known,
and built a church second to none in New England. I should have built
one that would not have cost one half of the money, had I acted on my
own judgement, but I was influenced by a few others differently. I paid
more than twenty thousand dollars out of my own pocket into this church.

Public opinion in the community was, that if the several ministers had
given their influence in favor of this matter, a church would have been
built by subscription. They could very easily have influenced their
friends in that part of the city to unite in this enterprise without
detriment to their own congregation. Had this course been taken, it is
evident that by this time it would have been a large and prosperous

A correspondent of the Independent in writing upon the growth of
Congregationalism, in New Haven, had a great deal to say about the
Wooster Place church - calling the man that built it, "a sagacious
mechanic, who built it on speculation etc." Yet; added "if they had
called a young man for its Pastor from New England, it might have
succeeded after all."

It is well known that the Congregational denomination has made but very
small advancement compared with others for the last twenty years. It is
supposed that the inhabitants of New Haven have doubled in number during
that time; but only one small Mission church has been added to the
Congregational churches. Four Episcopal churches have been built, and
filled with worshipers, many of whom formerly belonged to Congregational
families. The Methodists have built two large churches, and more than
trebled in number. The Baptists have more than doubled, and now own and
occupy the Wooster Place church. And to have kept pace with the others,
the Congregational denomination should now have as many as three more
large churches.



For many years I have extensively advertised throughout every part of
the civilized world, and in the most conspicuous places, such a city as
New Haven Connecticut, U.S.A., and its name is hourly brought to notice
wherever American clocks are used, and I know of no more conspicuous or
prominent place than the dial of a clock for this purpose. More of these
clocks have been manufactured in this city for the past sixteen years
than any other one place in this country, and the company now
manufacturing, turn out seven hundred daily.

I now propose to give a brief description of New Haven and its
inhabitants in the words of a business man who loves the town. New
Haven, is to-day a city of more than forty thousand inhabitants,
remarkable as the New Englanders generally are for their ingenuity,
industry, shrewd practical good sense, and their large aggregate wealth;
and with forty thousand such people it is not strange that New Haven is
now growing like a city in the west. It was settled in 1638, and
incorporated as a city in 1784. Its population in 1830, was less than
eleven thousand, and in 1840, but little more than fourteen thousand,
its increase from 1840 to 1850, was about eight thousand, and from 1850
to 1860, the population has nearly doubled. The assessed value of
property in 1830, amounted to about two and a half millions. The amount
at the present time is estimated at over twenty seven millions. New
Haven is situated at the head of a fine bay, four miles from Long Island
Sound, and seventy-six miles from New York, on the direct line of
Rail-road, and great thoroughfare between that city and Boston, and can
be reached in three hours by Rail-road and about five by water from New
York. New Haven has long been known as the city of Elms, and it far
surpasses any other city in America in the number and beauty of these
noble elm trees which shade and adorn its streets and public squares. It
is a place of large manufacturing interests, the persevering genius and
enterprise of its people having made New Haven in a variety of ways,
prominent in industrial pursuits. Mr. Whitney, the inventor of the
Cotton Gin, Mr. Goodyear of india rubber notoriety, and many other great
and good men who by their ingenuity and perseverance have added millions
to the wealth of mankind, were citizens of New Haven. Nearly every kind
of manufactured article known in the market, can here be found and
bought direct from the manufactory - such as carriages and all kind of
carriage goods, firearms, shirts, locks, furniture, clothing, shoes,
hardware, iron castings, daguerrotype-cases, machinery, plated goods,
&c., &c.

The manufacture of carriages is here carried on, on a grand scale, and
its yearly productions are probably larger than of any other city in the
Union. There are more than sixty establishments in full operation at the
present time, many of them of great extent and completeness, and turn
out work justly celebrated for its beauty and substantial value wherever
they are known. I live in the immediate vicinity of the largest carriage
manufactury in the world, which turns out a finished carriage every
hour; much of the work being done by machinery and systematized in much
the same manner as the clock-making. American carriages are fast
following American clocks to foreign countries, to the West Indies,
Australia and the Sandwich Islands, Mexico and South America, and I
believe the day is not far distant when they will be exported to Europe
in large quantities, and the present prospect seems far more favorable
for them than it did for me when I introduced my first cargo of clocks
into England.

When I first saw this city in 1812, its population was less than five
thousand, and it looked to me like a country town. I wandered about the
streets early one morning with a bundle of clothes and some bread and
cheese in my hands little dreaming that I should live to see so great a
change, or that it ever would be my home. I remember seeing the loads of
wood and chips for family use lying in front of the houses, and acres of
land then in cornfields and valued at a small sum, are now covered with
fine buildings and stores and factories in about the heart of the city.

When I moved my case making business to New Haven, the project was
ridiculed by other clock-makers, of going to a city to manufacture by
steam power, and yet it seems to have been the commencement of
manufacturers in the country, coming to New Haven to carry on their
business. Numbers came to me to get my opinion and learn the advantages
it had over manufacturing in the country, which I always informed them
in a heavy business was very great, the item of transportation alone
over-balancing the difference between water and steam power. The
facilities for procuring stock and of shipping, being also an important
item. Not one of the good citizens will deny that this great business of
clock-making which I first brought to New Haven has been of immense
advantage and of great importance to the city. Through its agency
millions of money has been brought here, adding materially to the
general prosperity and wealth, besides bringing it into notice wherever
its productions are sent. I have been told that there is nothing in the
eastern world that attracts the attention of the inhabitants like a
Yankee clock. It has this moment come into my mind of several years ago
giving a dozen brass clocks to a missionary at Jerusalem; they were
shipped from London to Alexandria in Egypt, from there to Joppa, and
thence about forty miles on the backs of Camels to Jerusalem, where they
arrived safe to the great joy of the missionary and others interested,
and attracted a great deal of attention and admiration. I also sent my
clocks to China, and two men to introduce them more than twenty years

I will here say what I truly believe as to the future of this business;
there is no place on the earth where it can be started and compete with
New Haven, there are no other factories where they can possibly be made
so cheap. I have heard men ask the question, "why can't clocks be made
in Europe on such a scale, where labor is so cheap?" If a company could
in any part of the old world get their labor ten years for nothing, I do
not believe they could compete with the Yankees in this business. They
can be made in New Haven and sent into any part of the world for more
than a hundred years to come for less than one half of what they could
be made for in any part of the old world. I was many years in
systematizing this business, and these things I know to be facts, though
it might appear as strong language. No man has ever lived that has given
so much time and attention to this subject as myself. For more than
fifty years, by day and by night, clocks have been uppermost in my mind.
The ticking of a clock is music to me, and although many of my
experiences as a business man have been trying and bitter, I have the
satisfaction of knowing that I have lived the life of an honest man, and
have been of some use to my fellow men.



Pendulum clocks are the oldest style, and are more generally introduced
than any other kind. I will give a few simple suggestions essential for
keeping this clock in good order as a time-keeper. In the first place, a
clock must be plumb (that is level;) and what I mean by plumb, is not
treing up the case to a level, but it is to put the case in a position
so that the beats or sounds of the wheel-teeth striking the verge are
equal. It is not necessary to go by the sound, if the face is taken off
so that you can see the verge. You can then notice and see whether the
verge holds on to the teeth at each end the same length of time; or (in
other words) whether the vibrations are equal as they should be. Clocks
are often condemned because they stop, or because they do not keep good
time, while these points and others are not in beat, the vibrations are
not regular; hence it will not divide the time equally, and it is called
a poor time-keeper, when the difficulty may be that it is not properly
set up. A clock which will run when it is much out of beat, is a very
good one, and it must run very easily, because it has a great
disadvantage to overcome, viz: a greater distance from a perpendicular
line one way than the other in order that the verge may escape the
teeth. A clock may be set up in perfect beat, but the shelf is liable to
settle or warp, and get out of beat so gradually, that it might not be
remarked by one not suspecting it, unless special notice was taken of
it. This matter should be looked to when the clock stops.

I have explained the mode of setting up a clock with reference to
putting it in beat, etc. Another essential point to be attended to is
that the rod should hang in the centre or very near the centre of the
loop in the crutch wire which is connected with the verge, and for this
reason, if it rubs the front or back end of the loop, the friction will
cause it to stop. To prevent this, set the clock case so that it will
lean back a little or forward, as it requires. It sometimes happens that
the dial (if it is made of zinc) gets bent in, and the loop of the
crutch wire rubs as it passes back and forth. This should be attended
to. It should be noticed also, whether the crutch wire gets misplaced so
that it rubs any kind of a dial; the least impediment here will stop a
clock. The centre of the dial should next be noticed. It sometimes
happens that the warping moves it from its place, so that the sockets of
the pointers rub, and many times it is the cause of the clock's
stopping; this can be remedied by pareing out the centre on the side

Soft verges are no uncommon cause of clocks stopping, and those who
travel to repair clocks generally overlook this trouble. A clock with a
soft verge will run but a short time, because the teeth will dent into
the face of the verge and cause a roughness that will certainly stop it.
The way to ascertain this, is to try a file on the end of the verge; if
you can file it it is soft; they are intended to be so hard that a file
will not cut them. They can be hardened without taking off the brass
ears or crutch wires, if you are careful in heating them; but the
roughness on the faces caused by the teeth must be taken out in
finishing. They must be polished nicely, and the polish lines should run
parallel with the verge: this may not seem to some necessary, but if the
polished lines run crosswise you can hear it rub distinctly and it would
cause it to stop.

It is very common to hear a clock make a creaking noise, and this leads
inexperienced persons to think it has become dry inside. This is not so,
and you will always find it to be caused by the loop of the crutch wire
where it touches the rod; apply a little oil and it will cure it.

Some think that a clock must be cleaned and oiled often, but if the
foregoing directions are carefully pursued it is not necessary. I could
show the reader several thirty-four hour brass clocks of my first and
second years' manufacture (about twenty-two years since) which have been
taken apart and cleaned but once - perhaps some of them twice. I have
been told that they run as well as they did the first year. Now these
are the directions which I should lay down for you to save your money,
and your clocks from untimely wearing out. If you see any signs of their
stopping - such as a faint beat, or if on a very cold night they stop,
take the dial off, and the verge from the pin, wipe the pin that the
verge hangs on, the hole in the ears of the verge, and the pieces that
act on the wheel; also the loop of the verge wire where it connects with
the rod, and the rod itself where the loop acts. Previous to taking off
the verge, oil all the pivots in front; let the clock be wound up about
half way, then take off the verge, and let it run down as rapidly as it
will, in order to work out the gummy oil: then wipe off the black oil
that has worked out and it is not necessary to add any more to the
pivots. Then oil the parts as above described connected with the verge
and be very sparing of the oil, for too little is better than too much.
I never use any but watch oil. You may think that the other oils are
good because you have tried them; but I venture to say that all the good
they effected was temporary and after a short time the clock was more
gummed up than it was before. Watch oil is made from the porpoise' jaw,
and I have not seen anything to equal it. You may say why not oil the
back pivots? They do not need it as often as the front ones, because
they are not so much exposed, and hence, they do not catch the dust
which passes through the sash and through the key holes that causes the
pivots to be gummy and gritty. The front pivot holes wear largest first.
A few pennys' worth of oil will last many years.

It is necessary to occasionally oil the pulleys on the top of the case
which the cord passes over. If this is not done the hole becomes
irregular, and a part of the power is lost to the clock. Common oil will
answer for them. With regard to balance-wheel clocks, it is more
difficult to explain the mode of repairing, to the inexperienced. With
reference to oiling, use none but watch oil.


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Online LibraryChauncey JeromeHistory of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years, and Life of Chauncey Jerome → online text (page 7 of 7)